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Book Review – Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes (@Elizjhaynes)

September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes returns with a disturbing and powerful tale that preys on our darkest fears.

Police analyst Annabel wouldn’t describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman’s absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.

A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people whose individual voices haunt its pages, Human Remains shows how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.

*

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes was featured as a Kindle Daily Deal, and after reading the book description (see above), I had to read it.  I read about cases like these occasionally (about bodies being found after weeks/months of no one missing them) and I’ve always thought about how sad that was. That someone could be so cut off from everybody around them that they die alone and no one notices.

In this crime thriller, analyst Annabel makes the disturbing discovery that in her hometown, the number of such cases are off the roof. Surely, that isn’t natural, is this a sign of something wrong with her town in general or is someone responsible? Ms Haynes chooses not to keep her readers in the dark, and in alternating chapters, she gives voice to the man responsible (Colin – a sick man with an obsession for death) and his ‘victims’.

For a ‘thriller’, Human Remains is a slow read though; nothing really exciting happens until near the end (and that’s only because Colin decides to deviate from his MO and does a really stupid thing). Annabel is also a tricky kind of character; she’s so mousy and depressed and had such a victim-complex that I got really frustrated with her character. She was the perfect prey for Colin, though, so I get that was why the author wrote her that way.

Human Remains tells a really compelling story though – it’s disturbing (Warning: there’s explicit description on decomposition that might gross out some readers) and grim and I did like the psychological aspects of it, and what the author was trying to say about alienation and depression in modern society. I mean, it’s definitely different from the usual crime thriller books I’ve read.

I have no plans for re-reading this one though (it’s just not that kind of book). So, if I were you, I’d suggest you borrow this if possible.

 

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes (Myriad Editions) is available on Amazon, B&N, Apple iBooks, Kobo books

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Book Review – Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro

May 12, 2014 1 comment

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro

Book Description:

The dead rise…

A mysterious incident in Russia, a blip buried in the news—it’s the only warning humanity receives that civilization will soon be destroyed by a single, voracious virus that creates monsters of men.

Humanity falls…

A lawyer, still grieving over the death of his young wife, begins to write as a form of therapy. Bur he never expected that his anonymous blog would ultimately record humanity’s last days.

The end of the world has begun…

Governments scramble to stop the zombie virus, people panic, so-called “Safe Havens” are established, the world erupts into chaos; soon it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. Armed only with makeshift weapons and the will to live, a lone survivor will give mankind one last chance against…

Apocalypse Z

*

I was in the mood for another take on the Zombie Apocalypse, so I picked up Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro (a Spanish practicing lawyer & author based in Pontevedra, Spain). With an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon (and 1,083 5 star reviews!), I figured this should be a good buy.

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End unfortunately didn’t quite live up (to me) to the promise of its 4.2 stars, but if you like Zombie stories, it’s still an okay (if redundant) read. My main problem with the book was that it didn’t really offer anything new to the genre – the author was pretty faithful in his characterization of the zombies, and the plot is the usual survival story covered many times before (by better authors). The setting of the story at the author’s native Spain did keep it  bit more interesting for me in the beginning, same with the origin of the Zombie plague beginning somewhere in Dagestan. Book-Putin’s response was also classic – I think Putin’s government would react the same way :)

The main character in the book is a yuppie lawyer who initially starts blogging as a way of dealing with his grief after the death of his wife, and ended up chronicling his harrowing experiences in a personal journal during the Zombie apocalypse. I thought that the blogging style worked well in the beginning, when the lawyer was slowly waking up to the real threat while trying to go about his ordinary life (going to work, shopping, etc). I was still okay when it got switched to writing a journal (the internet dies during the apocalypse, y’all) – after all, the guy was stuck alone in his home surrounded by zombies. Plenty of time to write one’s thoughts down on paper.

But I did have to suspend disbelief that the lawyer supposedly continued writing in the journal so faithfully (reporting EVERYTHING that happened to him almost daily), even after he went on the run (and spoiler alert! got captured). I mean, it’s kind of hard to think of myself taking a break every now and then from the Zombie mayhem to write down all my previous 24-hour experiences. It really got silly around the last third of the book for me – oh, hey, a horde of zombies have killed a bunch of us! I might die next! but hey, I’ll write down first about what happened in detail starting from this morning…

Personally, if the author was really dead set on the journal aspect, I thought the character should’ve just remained stuck in his home, while he fought going cabin-fever crazy while trying to figure out a way to survive the Zombies. Less travelling / adventuring / gathering companions (including a possible love-interest character whose age – 16/17? – gave me the creeps), and more going into the psychology of survival of a lone wolf-type character maybe.

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro, translated by Pamela Carmell (AmazonCrossing) is available on Amazon.

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Book Review – The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson

February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Book Description:

WINNER, 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella 
Nominee, 2013 World Fantasy Award for Novella 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul showcases a fascinating magic system as the clock ticks down for a condemned criminal.

When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create–to Forge–a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal counselor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…

*

Well, no wonder Brandon Sanderson’s novella The Emperor’s Soul earned a Hugo – it’s a really good book, and I loved the creativity of the magical system it explored. It sure left me wanting more long after I’d finished it. I even checked Brandon Sanderson’s catalog to see if he might have written a sequel in the interim (from it’s release in November, 2012).

It amazes me, really, the creativity of fantasy/sci fi authors like Mr Sanderson. He explained in his afterword that he got the idea after visiting a museum in Taiwan and seeing the red signature seals you see in Chinese artwork. He went from that to – What if the stamp wasn’t just the signature of the artwork’s creator? What if stamping a work allowed someone to change the entire history of an object (for example, an empty wall becomes an exquisite wall painting once you add the history that a master artist once spent weeks convalescing in the room)? And a step further – is it possible for a master of the craft to do the same for a brain-damaged person, rebuild the person’s entire history and personality from scratch? Just blew my mind.

If you’re after an afternoon or two of “blowing your mind”  too – keep this book in mind. Maybe, if there are enough people wishing for more Shae, Gaotona and Emperor Ashravan – a follow-up might just materialize!

The Emperor’s Soul) by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment) is available on Amazon, B&N, Apple iBooks, Kobo books

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“UK to provide Philippines with £5m in aid”

November 10, 2013 Leave a comment

What my dad said: “(Given the Napoles-Philippine Lawmakers scandal), hopefully, all £5m will reach those who were devastated by the super typhoon, and it won’t end up lining the pockets of corrupt officials!”

I concur.

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Help Needed in the Philippines

November 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is the strongest tropical cyclone worldwide this year. It’s the 25th storm to hit the country just in 2013, and this one was a category-5 super typhoon.

I heard that in just Tacloban City (Where they were hit by storm surges up to seven meters high), the death toll may go up to 500. So sad.

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My Twitter Account was Suspended

November 8, 2013 4 comments

To start off, I have a twitter account, it’s @randomizemeWP. I’ve always treated the twitter like a feed, to keep up with breaking news, but also from the blog (WordPress auto-updates it on twitter).

For the past two days, I have been without my twitter since the PTB (aka the ‘Powers That Be’) decided to suspend it. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my Twitter feed for news and entertainment until I realized that it was (horror!) NOT updating. It wasn’t until I logged on online that I saw that I had been suspended via this ugly warning box on my screen (it didn’t show up on my iPod Touch twitter app).

I was pretty shocked to learn that I was suspended since I couldn’t recall doing anything that would merit something so drastic! And without any warning or any notice even! Just out of the blue, there was this message on my Twitter (after I logged on  myPC) that my account had been suspended. No explanation, just a link for me to click on .

I kept calm (but was really upset inside), submitted a ticket (Via the link) and then waited for a response.

I received an email within a few hours that basically told me to go through Twitter’s rules and regulations to see which one I could’ve broken (They don’t give you any reason for the suspension in the email), and to reply back after. So, I read through the list (it’s pretty lengthy), couldn’t find what I did wrong, and wrote back as much.

Then waiting. And more waiting. In the meantime, I wondered what I could be missing?! Maybe there was a breaking news somewhere….

I found this link online where I could see that my application for a review was at least being processed (The email Twitter sent did NOT include this link or any way to track progress of their review).

And still more waiting…. And then, out of the blue today, my Twitter started working again. I felt very relieved, but I still don’t know why I got suspended or what I did to get un-suspended. There wasn’t any more communications from Twitter, no email, no explanation, nothing.

I’m glad that my account got reinstated, but it’s pretty upsetting that I haven’t received any explanation at all.

In the meantime, to those who follow my blog on twitter, here’s my facebook page (in case Twitter suspends me again!)

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#Napoles Bingo

November 7, 2013 Leave a comment

My dad stayed up too late following feeds on the Philippine Senate investigation on Ms Napoles (she’s alleged to have connived with Philippine legislators to steal more than PHP 10 Billion). Saw this and thought it was funny:

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